Why Upliftment Of The Majority Is Stalled And Stunted

Brian Mahlangu’s lengthy lament that the “transfer of power has not so far benefited the majority” (Business Report, April 19) contains nothing new about the subject which he and his fellow travellers persist in misunderstanding.

Prosperity and upliftment cannot be transferred or conferred. That is a marxist notion which despite worldwide failure and condemnation continues to be paraded, disingenuously, as an attainable objective. The same applies to the notion that wealth and prosperity are commodities that can be “redistributed.” Where that has occurred, it has resulted in the stunting of economic growth which, in turn, hasreduced employment and exacerbated poverty.

Mahlangu also subscribes to what he calls “an inclusive economy” which he sees as resolving poverty and squalor. How that could be implemented he does not indicate. However, George Orwell in his novel Animal Farm provides a stark illustration of the consequencesof such an economy: poverty and misery for the majority, luxury and sufficiency for the elite.Already South Africa under ANC policies is well down the road to equality in poverty. Eighteen million people are dependent on state welfare. Ten million people are unemployable. Ninety percent of school leavers can’t find employment and in time join the welfare queue.

If after 20 years of ANC policies, the hoped-for benefits of democracy have not materialised, it should be obvious that those policies are flawed. Despite expectations and political spin-doctoring, inflexible, race-based labour laws and BEE have failed to benefit the black majority. Instead an oligarchy of fabulously wealthy blacks has emerged who are not inclined to part with their windfalls. Prescriptive legislation along with corruption and cadre deployment has further depleted the engine of economic growth. Consequently,some 46 companies have relocated to London, while discrimination against minorities has seen an exodus of the ablest, brightest and best-trained of our youth to distant shores.

Equality can be legislated but when it is coerced by means of discriminatory labour legislation and BEE, it violates freedom. Respected economist Milton Friedman in his book Free to Choose  (pp. 181-82) wrote that a society which prioritises equality ahead of freedom marginalises itself in terms of prosperity and opportunity. In place of freedom of opportunity, position and privilege become  institutionalised based on race and ideology. That is exactly what has happened to South Africa under the ANC and why economic growth, the only route to upliftment, is stalled and stunted.

Sent to The Mercury and published, 26 April 2017.

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